Friends of woman who committed suicide holding 2nd benefit for Foundation for Prevention of Suicide
Tammye Nash | Senior Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Kinita Albertson first met Shauna Greaham in high school, when the two played softball for opposing teams. Then the two women met again, this time as teammates, when they both played college softball for Texas Weslyan University.
Greaham was, Albertson said, “the perfect person, so amazing.”
But it only seemed that way.
Greaham committed suicide on Oct. 13, 2008.
Albertson said Greaham struggled with periodic bouts of depression throughout her adult life. Although Albertson said she never knew of her friend being bullied or harassed over being gay, Greaham wasn’t comfortable with her sexual orientation, either.
“When we were in college, she was embarrassed to be gay. She never talked about it or admitted it,” Albertson said. “Even after college, I would see her at the games [for the lesbian softball league], and she would say, ‘Oh, I’m just playing for the gay league because they needed more players.’”
Still, Greaham’s friends never expected her to take her own life.
“She had a girlfriend, but they were breaking up,” Albertson said, recalling the days leading up to her friend’s death. “We knew Shauna was upset and depressed, so we went over that weekend to spend some time with her. She seemed to be okay. Yes, she was upset, but by the time we left, she seemed okay. She was laughing and having a good time with everybody.
“And then, she was just gone,” Albertson continued. “Nobody really knows what happened. Something just snapped, and she was gone.”
And her friends were left with grief and questions.
“I had all the questions and nowhere to find answers. Even on the Internet, I had trouble finding any information. I had to dig. I was just grasping at straws as to why this happened,” Albertson said.
And then she found the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and finally found some of the answers she was seeking.
“I found AFSP online, and I called and asked for information. They really did help,” Albertson said.
One of the things she learned, Albertson said, was not to give in to some of the common misperceptions about suicide.
“A lot of times, when someone commits suicide, people say that they just gave up, that they quit trying. It’s a lot more complicated than that. There aren’t such easy answers,” Albertson said. “That’s one thing I don’t want people to think about Shauna. She was an amazing person, and I don’t want anybody to think of her as a quitter.”
AFSP is a nonprofit organization “exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide,” according to its website.
The agency works to meet its goals by funding scientific research, offering education programs for mental health professionals, working to educate the public about mood disorders and suicide prevention, promoting policies and legislation aimed at preventing suicide and offering programs and resources for those who have lost loved ones to suicide and those who are themselves at risk for suicide.
The organization also has a specific LGBTQ Initiative and in 2007 helped sponsor, in conjunction with the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, a conference on LGBTQ suicide. AFSP has since funded several grants related to the issue of LGBTQ teen suicide and is currently working to complete a review of research and recommendations on LGBTQ suicide and suicide risk, according to the website.
The organization is also actively involved in studying and publicizing the link between anti-LGBT bullying and suicide.
But all those efforts take money. That’s why Albertson and her friends this weekend will hold their second annual “Strides for Shauna” benefit show and date auction.
Casey Cohea, who is helping organize the benefit, said eight people have already committed to being “auctioned off” for dates, and she expects others to join the list by the time the event starts Saturday night, Oct. 16.
The event will also feature a performance by Nikki McKibben who was the third place finisher in the debut season of American Idol.
McKibben isn’t one the dates who will be auctioned, Cohea noted, “she will just be there to sing. We told her what we were doing, and she wanted to help.”
The show and auction starts at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night at Best Friends Club, 2620 E. Lancaster Ave. in Fort Worth. And anyone interested in volunteering for the auction can contact Cohea at email@example.com or Albertson at Kinita.firstname.lastname@example.org.
But even those who can’t attend can still contribute by going online to OutOfTheDar-kness.com and donating to Team Strides for Shauna.
“I didn’t know Shauna. I’m doing this because people that I know and love knew and loved Shauna and this is important to them,” Cohea said.
“But I am also doing it because this is something that affects so many people in our community. We are losing so many people to suicide, and we have to do something to help.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.